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Mordechai Eliyahu, Former Sephardi Chief Rabbi, Dies

Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, spiritual leader of the national religious movement in Israel, has died.

Eliyahu, who served as the Sephardi chief rabbi of Israel from 1983 to 1993, died Monday after being hospitalized at the Shaarey Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem for nearly a year from complications of a heart condition. He was 81.

Tens of thousands of mourners are expected to attend his funeral Monday night in Jerusalem.

Eliyahu was born in the Old City of Jerusalem and became a protege of the Hazon Ish, a highly influential ultra-Orthodox rabbi. In 1960 Eliyahu became the youngest person elected as a religious judge in Israel.

Eliyahu, who served as the chief rabbi of Beersheba for four years, was elected to the Supreme Rabbinical Court in Jerusalem, a position he held until his death.

As chief rabbi he reached out to secular Israelis, traveling throughout the country to meet with groups of Jews.

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